Tuesday, 5 June 2012

Is Letting Under 13s On Facebook A Good Idea?

Kids are ALREADY using Facebook, often with the collusion of their parents, so maybe they're just bowing to the inevitable. However, the fact that they are not supposed to always gave a sheen of legitimacy to the social media website and absolved it of any responsibility for what went on there. To be fair, they have armies of censors that remove dodgy posts. Would taking the brakes off young users be a good thing?

Privacy advocates will no doubt be alarmed at the news that Facebook is considering opening its service up to younger users under parental supervision. The idea is to get them interested in the games — then charge their parents. The fact that kids under thirteen are already using it already is a problem for Facebook as it is because a certificate of parental consent is required for tracking their online use, and this is how Facebook makes its money. The reasoning is, since kids are doing it anyway, why not make it legal?

In May 2011, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said that younger children should be allowed on the site—for education purposes. "In the future, software and technology will enable people to learn a lot from their fellow students." - PC Mag

A decision has yet to be made, but with over 5 million users under 11, the lure of advertising revenue is proving hard to resist, particularly in the light of Facebook's botched IPO. Add to that concerns that kids not being adequately supervised and their naivety about perves and appropriate behaviour are not being addressed and it's possible that an existing problem will get worse. Stories of girls being targeted by perves with fake profiles abound and there's also the issue of negligent or ignorant parents to deal with.

Mark Zuckerberg may speak loftily of education but while he's putting plans in place to charge parents for the games their kids play and track junior search habits tells a different story. I think it's a bad idea.

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